Today’s News - Thursday, February 13, 2020
EDITOR'S NOTE: Tomorrow and Monday will be no-newsletter days. We'll be back Tuesday, February 18.
● ANN feature: Design Workshop's MacRae & Ficht offer three trends in landscape architecture that they see growing this year: converting antiquated roadways into green infrastructure systems; addressing cultural and ecological inequities; and tackling air quality as part of climate change.
● Kamin cheers a "beautifully remade" former Chicago public housing project that he wants to "label a great success," but is it - when it will have 525 fewer affordable units.
● The New York Botanical Gardens has "backed away" from plans to build a housing/hotel project in the Bronx "in favor of a project that's more closely aligned with the needs of the neighborhood" - instead, it will be affordable housing (no architect named).
● The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, on the other hand, is in a "Fight for Sunlight" after the NYC mayor gets behind a massive mega-project that the BBG fears would cause "serious injury to its collection of rare and exotic plants - a result of shadows cast by the development's 39-story towers."
● Mortice delves into designing affordable housing in African American neighborhoods, and how "architects navigate class, race, identity, and community in a privatized system - many don't think we can deal with today's housing crisis - let alone tomorrow's - in the current policy regime."
Speaking of African-American neighborhoods - it's Black History Month
● The Library of Congress offers fab photographer Camilo J. Vergara's fab archive of images of African American communities going back to the 1970s "that bear witness to discrimination, hardship, perseverance, ingenuity and pride."
● A look at "10 Black architects whose work has shaped America" - despite "extreme disadvantages. Their recognition is long overdue."
● A Q&A with Francis Kéré re: "insights into his creative process, preferred materials, and the importance of education."
● "Hollywood's Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story" is a new feature-length documentary about his "wildly prolific career," now on PBS channels and streaming online.
More meditations on the "Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again" draft executive order
● Betsky says the mandate is "misguided - quality matters more than style. Let Trump have his GRFC columns and pediments. Good architects can use any style. Let's argue for openness, sustainability, and the deep beauty that comes from building truly democratic structures instead."
● Gutschow of Carnegie Mellon mulls "why so many architects are angered" by the order: "As a historian of modern architecture, I share their suspicions" - the classical style doesn't always symbolize democratic ideals of self-governance - restricting designs to one particular style rejects the diverse tastes and ideals of the American people."
● Phineas Harper of the U.K.'s Architecture Foundation is "a defender of traditional architecture" - but ponders: "What ethical blind spots have allowed the arguments of traditional architecture to be co-opted by political extremists? For too long, fans of traditional architecture have ignored the darker side of our movement."
● Postrel ponders "the faux populism of Trumpified architecture" that "replaces one set of insiders with an even snootier one" - the National Civic Art Society's "formerly obscure views are now enjoying the world's largest megaphone - classicism itself is no guarantee of good civic architecture."
● Casey is glad that "San Antonio's new federal courthouse is well underway," else "it might have to be radically redrawn. Should Texans be restricted to structures that require Corinthian columns and arches? Why not also require our state senators to wear togas?"
● A good reason to head to Phoenix next week: the 13th annual Meeting of the Minds summit - "the best place to find actionable, replicable, and scalable solutions to urban challenges, and to build the partnerships needed for their implementation."
● Evan Nicole Brown explains "why architecture should have won a best supporting role in 'Parasite'" for being "an extraordinary study in how our built environments create narratives - using design as an allegory for class tension and human fallibility."
● Jung tells the fascinating story of how the dwellings in "Parasite" were "built from scratch - four different sets mixed together in postproduction. Much like the movie itself, a minimalist façade belies a devilish complexity - and shows us how foolish we were to have been lulled by its beauty."
● Wainwright has a great conversation with "the seer of sizzling city architecture" Koolhaas, prior to his "Countryside, The Future" opening at the Guggenheim, who "explains his epiphany" (a brothel outside of Reno involved): "Is this epic exhibition his swan song? 'Am I going to retire?' he barks, incredulously, before changing the subject to a new kind of tractor" (video trailer included).
● Marcus Field cheers "Art Deco By The Sea" at the U.K.'s at the Sainsbury Centre that "feeds our hunger for glam" and "that gloriously optimistic design movement that revolutionised British holiday resorts" (great pix!).
● Budds considers Chayka's "The Longing for Less: Living With Minimalism" that traces how the term "has become an 'oppressive gospel' - what was once a useful concept for provoking mindfulness has become a superficial style," and explores "how we might establish a healthier relationship with it."
● Welton x 2: He talks to Kamin, who "credits an art history course at Amherst College for turning his head toward architecture criticism," about his latest tome "Amherst College: The Campus Guide." is designed to be read at home or taken out for a stroll around campus...photography by Ralph Lieberman is crisp, telling and descriptive...It may have started small, but it would eventually soar - architecturally and academically.
● He continues his conversation with Kamin re: his new book about Amherst that "paints a telling picture of his alma mater."
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ANN feature: INSIGHT: Jim MacRae & Jason Ficht: 2020 Trends in Landscape Architecture: Three trends we anticipate growing this year: addressing air quality as part of climate change; cultural and ecological inequities; and converting antiquated roadways into green infrastructure systems.- ArchNewsNow.com
Blair Kamin: A former North Side public housing project is beautifully remade, but at what cost? ...former Julia C. Lathrop Homes...once was the antithesis of the Chicago Housing Authority’s high-rise hells, but later spiraled into physical decay and worse....touring the...transformation, I was tempted to label [it] a great success...But there’s a catch: When the remake is done, [it] will have...1,116 housing units, but just 400...will be public housing - 525 fewer than before......is it smart policy? [CHA] has yet to fully make good on its promise to replace [the] 525 lost public housing...The architecture and landscape...deserve high praise. But it’s too early to tell if the architects of public policy have succeeded... -- Michael Van Valkenburgh; Jens Jensen; McGuire Igleski & Associates; HED; JGMA; bKL Architecture- Chicago Tribune
New York Botanical Gardens plans Bronx affordable housing project: The project would bring 450 below-market rate apartments to Bedford Park: ...two 12-story residential buildings...The NYBG has mulled development for the land since at least 2016 when it sought to build housing and a hotel...has since backed away from a hotel in favor of a project that’s more closely aligned with the needs of the neighborhood...- Curbed New York
Mayor de Blasio supports development poised to devastate Brooklyn Botanic Garden: ...threw his hat into the "Fight for Sunlight" controversy...undermined the expert opinion of professional green thumbs, architects, and executives at BBG...when he suggested that building a massive residential complex a stones throw away from the beloved horticultural museum would cause no serious injury to its collection of rare and exotic plants...Garden stewards have maintained a firm opposition to the...[1,578-unit] mixed-use complex...half of which would be...so-called “affordable”...[BBG] fearing the destruction of plant life as a result of shadows cast by the development’s 39-story towers.- Brooklyn Paper
Zach Mortice: A Seat at the Table: To design affordable housing in African American neighborhoods, architects navigate class, race, identity, and community in a privatized system. But can things get better? ...architects, especially when working with marginalized people, need to...push themselves beyond their own lived experiences in order to help grow communities organically...many architects working in affordable housing don’t think we can deal with today’s housing crisis - let alone tomorrow’s - in the current policy regime...Sorkin says: “A sensitive government working with good architects could definitely pull it off. We could do it.” -- Michael Sorkin Studio/Terreform; Jack Schroeder/Landon Bone Baker; Juan Moreno/JGMA; Davila Parker-Garcia/Weinstein A+U; Rico Quirindongo/DLR Group; Kimberly Dowdell/National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)- Architect Magazine
African American Communities in America's Cities: Photographs by Camilo J. Vergara: He has photographed America’s cities since the 1970s...images that bear witness to discrimination, hardship, perseverance, ingenuity and pride.- Library of Congress
10 Black Architects Whose Work Has Shaped America: Under extreme disadvantages, black architects have played a pivotal role in construction across the US. Their recognition is long overdue: The existence of black architects today is part of an arduous and continuing process, fueled by gradual socio-political change...due to pioneering individuals... -- Robert Robinson Taylor; Julian Abele; Vertner Woodson Tandy; Paul Revere Williams; Norma Merrick Sklarek; Moses McKissack III; Beverly Loraine Greene; Clarence W. ‘Cap’ Wigington; Allison Williams; Roberta Washington- Architizer
10 Questions With ... Francis Kéré: His work often blurs the line between architecture and art. Q&A re: insights into his creative process, preferred materials, and the importance of education..."if you have people that know the rules of architecture or the art of architecture and are compelled to think outside the box, you could create great things...my dream project is to work with a client who is visionary enough to work with [me] and allow things to happen." -- Kéré Architecture.- Interior Design magazine
Paul R. Williams gets the star treatment in new PBS documentary: [His] career...was defined by glitz, glam, and a remarkable triumph over adversity that helped pave the way for countless architects to follow. Now, Williams and his work will at long last celebrated in a new feature-length documentary film, "Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story"...blazed previously impassible trails...wildly prolific career spanned over 50 years...[film] can now be viewed on PBS channels nationwide and streamed online here.- The Architect's Newspaper
Aaron Betsky: Mandating Classicism for Government Buildings is Misguided, But So What? The dust up over the proposed executive order and why quality matters more than style: ...it is ridiculous to enforce the use of any kind of style for the design of public buildings in a reputed democracy...let’s instead fight for what matters: quality government contributions to our democratic built environment...The bigger problem is that we are not building what we really need...Let Trump have his Classicism. Good architects can use any style. Let’s argue for openness, sustainability, and the deep beauty that comes from building truly democratic structures instead.- Architect Magazine
Kai Gutschow: Why so many architects are angered by "Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again": As a historian of modern architecture, I share their suspicions...I fear that it will ultimately stifle innovation and reverse recent federal support for architectural experimentation...drafted by the National Civic Art Society...considers modernist architecture to be “a failure”...the classical style doesn’t always symbolize democratic ideals of self-governance...often masks a fondness toward traditional European culture - and, by extension, an aversion to “the other"...restricting designs to one particular style rejects the diverse tastes and ideals of the American people.- The Conversation
Phineas Harper: Traditional architecture has frequently been leveraged to support violent political agendas: A draft executive order...is the latest example of how traditional architecture is used to disguise racist agendas: "Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again" edict...What ethical blindspots have allowed the arguments of traditional architecture to be co-opted by political extremists? Traditional architects have a responsibility to think and act more critically when it comes to how their work is used and abused by others...For too long, fans of traditional architecture have ignored the darker side of our movement...We now need to become ferocious defenders of threatened communities, whatever style of housing they live in. -- Architecture Foundation- Dezeen
Virginia Postrel: The Faux Populism of Trumpified Architecture: An order for designing federal buildings replaces one set of insiders with an even snootier one: [National Civic Art Society's] formerly obscure views are now enjoying the world’s largest megaphone...draft executive order establishes a President’s Committee for the Re-Beautification of Federal Architecture...specifically excluding “artists, architects, engineers, art or architecture critics"....anyone who knows what they’re talking about. Architects and critics were apoplectic...The response demonstrates how...Trump manages to effectively troll snooty elites...classicism itself is no guarantee of good civic architecture. -- Catesby Leigh- Bloomberg Opinion
Rick Casey: In Governance and Architecture, Let’s Not Regress 2,000 Years: Good thing San Antonio’s new federal courthouse is well underway, because if it was still on the drawing board it might have to be radically redrawn: “Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again"...classical style would be promoted and at least partly policed by a new entity, the President’s Committee for the Re-Beautification of Federal Architecture...The “self-governing ideals” of the U.S....don’t include subjecting our built environment to the whims of a crusty, musty Washington board...Should Texans...be restricted to structures...that require Corinthian columns and arches? Why not also require our state senators to wear togas? -- Lake Flato Architects- Rivard Report (San Antonio, Texas)
Meeting of the Minds Annual Summit, Phoenix, Arizona, February 19-21: ...now in its 13th year, brings together experts working on innovations in urbanism and gives them a platform to share their blueprints to others in the field...the best place to find actionable, replicable, and scalable solutions to urban challenges, and to build the partnerships needed for their implementation.- Meeting of the Minds
Evan Nicole Brown: Why architecture should have won a best supporting role in "Parasite": The Academy Award-winning movie masterfully uses design to reveal the intricacies of class and inequality: ...architecture is used for its aesthetic value and also for its power as a storytelling device, making this film an extraordinary study in how our built environments create narratives...with an added element of psychology built into his sets...using design as an allegory for class tension and human fallibility.- Fast Company
E. Alex Jung: The House That "Parasite" Built (From Scratch): Much of the shock and thrill in Bong Joon Ho’s genre-flexible movie...hinges on the fictional house built by a fictional architect...What appears to be a mansion is just an elaborate world built to the director’s exact specifications...four different sets...mixed together in postproduction...Much like the movie itself, a minimalist façade belies a devilish complexity. It’s so metaphorical...the moment Mun-Kwang rings the doorbell...is a fulcrum, when the house suddenly breaks open and shows us how foolish we were to have been lulled by its beauty.- New York Magazine
Oliver Wainwright: 'The countryside is where the radical changes are': Rem Koolhaas goes rural: The seer of sizzling city architecture now says the countryside is where the future is being built - and it’s a ‘toxic mix’. Ahead of a major Guggenheim show, he explains his epiphany: It was while visiting a brothel on the outskirts of Reno, Nevada....For him, these [fulfilment centres] embody a new kind of sublime...a sprawling exhibition, momentously titled "Countryside, The Future"...Five years in the making, and drawing on a decade of research...will this detached observer’s deadpan study of disparate rural phenomena translate into a meaningful exhibition? Is this epic exhibition his swan song...“Am I going to retire?” he barks, incredulously, before changing the subject to a new kind of tractor. -- AMO; Office for Metropolitan Architecture/OMA- Guardian (UK)
Marcus Field: "Art Deco By The Sea" celebrates the revival and restoration of glorious architecture: Art Deco is back for the new Roaring Twenties. But was it ever really out of fashion? A new exhibition feeds our hunger for glam: ...that gloriously optimistic design movement that came to define the Jazz Age...major exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich...sets out to explore how the movement revolutionised British holiday resorts. thru June 14 -- Oliver Hill- Evening Standard (UK)
Diana Budds: Has minimalism gone too far? Misunderstood as an aspirational home design aesthetic, minimalism is due for a reappraisal, according to "The Longing for Less: Living With Minimalism": Kyle Chayka...has traced how the term has become a global aesthetic, an “oppressive gospel,” and a self-help phenomenon...what was once a useful concept for provoking mindfulness has become a superficial style...[He] explores the history of minimalism, what we get wrong about it, and how we might establish a healthier relationship with it....the concept can be redeemed if we think about it more as a mindset and less as a lifestyle brand.- Curbed
J. Michael Welton: From Blair Kamin, a Tour of Amherst College: [He] credits an art history course at Amherst College for turning his head toward architecture criticism..."I’m looking at the broader importance of these buildings.” He’s talking about a new guide...he’s penned. “Amherst College: The Campus Guide” is designed to be read at home or taken out for a stroll around campus...photography by Ralph Lieberman is crisp, telling and descriptive...It may have started small, but it would eventually soar - architecturally and academically.- Architects + Artisans
J. Michael Welton: An Architectural History of Amherst College: Blair Kamin’s newest book, “Amherst College: The Campus Guide,” paints a telling picture of his alma mater - with the buildings that populate it...“The effect on approach to the campus is like a miniature version of the Chicago Fair of 1893, with all the buildings alongside and talking to each other.” -- Herzog & de Meuron; Frederick Law Olmsted; Arthur Shurcliff; McKim Mead & White; Putnam & Cox; Benjamin Thompson- Architects + Artisans
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